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~The McDonald's-Style Big Mac Cheeseburger Salad~

IMG_5964When my foodie friends (people who like to cook, can cook and cook often), start talking about a yummy salad made in the style of McDonald's iconic Big Mac, I listen.  I listen because these are friends I listen to, and, because I have been known to indulge in an occasional Big Mac.  Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun is, in my opinion, the yummiest cheeseburger creation in the takeout-lane of the drive-thru fast-food circuit.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 6.55.21 AMSeptember 1968 -- The Bic Mac was invented in Pittsburgh by a McDonald's Franchise Owner named Jim Delligatti.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2ddfc8a970c-800wiIt cost 45 cents.

IMG_6020The Big Mac, designed to compete with the Big Boy Restaurant chain's Big Boy Burger, had two previous names that failed:  Aristocrat and the Blue Ribbon burger.  The "Big Mac" was named by Esther Glickstein Rose, a 21-year old secretary working at corporate headquarters.  The "two-all beef patties" slogan was created by Keith Reinhard and his creative group at advertising agency Needham Harper and Steers.  The Big Mac, which contains two 1.6-ounce patties along with an array of other components was placed on a three-part bun because testing proved it too sloppy to eat otherwise.  As for the "secret sauce", which is indeed a variant of Thousand Islands dressing, in 2012 McDonald's stated, "the primary sauce ingredients are not really a secret, and have been available on-line for years (sans specifics -- cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, etc.):  mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish and yellow mustard whisked together with vinegar, garlic and onion powder and paprika."

As one who believes she invented the chili-cheddar-cheeseburger salad, I cannot believe it never occurred to me to transfer my beloved Big Mac from bun to bowl.  In my food world, if given a choice, I'm the kinda girl who prefers to plant my roasted chicken breast or grilled strip steak atop a well-appointed salad, rather than position it next to a twice-baked fully-loaded baked potato, creamy potato salad or crunchy cole slaw.  It has nothing (zero) to do with cutting carbohydrates (my homemade croutons make up for the carbs) -- I just love the combination of perfectly-cooked hot-and-juicy protein atop a cold-and-crisp full-of-greens-and-goodies salad.

Part One:  Two all-beef patties topped w/yellow American.

MaxresdefaultAll McDonald's hamburgers are 100 percent beef with an 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio. The beef used in the burgers comes from whole cuts of forequarter and flank meat from the cow. In their kitchen: The burgers are never flipped, as the flat-topped mechanism that cooks them has a matching flat-topped top which, when lowered, cooks them on both sides at once (clam-shell-type style). All McDonald's hamburgers are topped with deli-sliced yellow American-processed cheese blend made from milk, milk fats and solids -- it melts great and make no mistake, it is not yellow cheddar.

Note:  Beef is beef and patty means disc.  That equates to 'burgers, not ground beef crumbles -- in my kitchen, two 3-ounce slider-sized patties per salad -- it's not a Big Mac unless it's got two. Once topped with the signature American-processed yellow cheese, a lid goes on long enough to melt it (tick,tock) -- this keeps the 'burgers hot-and-juicy, a la McDonald's flat-top-cooked 'burgers.

IMG_6853Newsflash:  McDonald's is almost ready to release never-frozen burgers this Spring. They've already quietly rolled-out their “fresh” beef burgers to test in Dallas, Tulsa, Miami, Orlando, and Nashville. Over the next month, the rollout-test will expand to Los Angeles, Houston, and San Francisco.  The rest of us will get to try them sometime May. In the beginning, they will be limited to a just a few of their sandwiches, and while the Big Mac will not be one of them, I have no doubt that never-frozen burgers will be a popular menu item.  It's all I ever use in my kitchen and I'm sticking with never-frozen beef today:

IMG_5912 IMG_5912 IMG_5912~ Step 1.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, form and place 8, 3-ounce, 2 1/2"-round, all-beef patties (1 1/2-pounds total ground beef) over medium-high heat --  I use a fat ratio of 90/10.  Don't add any oil or butter to skillet -- ground beef contains enough fat to do its thing.  Ever-so-lightly, season the patties with salt and pepper, and cook until barely-browned and just short of being cooked through, turning only once, about 4 minutes per side.  Do not overcook.  Error on the side of slightly-undercooking.

IMG_5924 IMG_5924 IMG_5924 IMG_5924 IMG_5924 IMG_5924~Step 2.  Turn the heat off.  It's 8 slices American-processed yellow cheese you'll need next. It's quick to melt to the perfect state without browning or drying out. Cut or break each slice into four quarters.  Arrange four quarters (1 slice) to fit atop each burger.  Place lid on  skillet, adjust the heat to low, and wait for cheese to melt, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and place two patties atop each salad as directed below.

Part Two:  Special Sauce.  Thousand Islands dressing -- not.

Tmg-facebook_socialMany folks assume the special sauce is Thousand Islands dressing. It's an easy assumption to make, as the two are similar enough -- mayonnaise-based and pickle-relish laced.  That said, I write a food blog, which made it necessary for me to head to the Golden Arches, in order to deconstruct a few Big Macs, so I could taste-test secret sauce side-by-side bottled store-bought and homemade Thousand Islands dressing.  The special sauce is indeed different.  It's more yellow than pink and more pungent too, which, (just as McDonald's stated), results from some brand of ordinary yellow ballpark-type mustard.

Fun secret sauce fact:  In our recent past, McDonald's lost the formula to their secret sauce, and, for a number of years it gradually grew "less special".  As a result, in 2004, the CEO scrapped the product and collaborated with the California supplier who had helped develop the original sauce -- they reconcocted the sauce.  End of story fact:  We now enjoy reconcocted secret sauce.

IMG_59051  cup mayonnaise

1/4  cup each: ketchup and sweet pickle relish

1  tablespoon yellow mustard

1  teaspoon white vinegar

1/2  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder and paprika

IMG_5901Whisk all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate 1 hour.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Part Three:  Lettuce, pickles, onion & sesame seeds sans bun.

IMG_5935For each salad (in each of 4, 6" salad plates, layer and arrange):

2  generous cups iceberg or romaine lettuce pieces

1/2  cup each: dill pickles, well-drained and 1/2"-diced, and, 1/2" chopped sweet onion

2  3-ounce hot-and-juicy burgers

1/2  teaspoon lightly-toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

1/4  cup secret sauce, for drizzling and dipping

IMG_5938 IMG_5938 IMG_5938 IMG_5938~Step 1.  Layer and arrange the veggies, plant the burgers, drizzle with dressing, then stick a knife and fork in it.  If you're thinking this salad could be more colorful, you'd be right, it could be -- but you would be wrong. This carefully-thought-through monochromatic melange of complex and conflicting flavors needs nothing else.  Adding anything else -- wouldn't be a Big Mac.

While special orders don't upset us, no tomatoes please:

6a0120a8551282970b01a511c4835a970c'Tis true and trust me, no one loves tomatoes more than me -- no one. So, if a tomato-loving Big Mac aficionado knows enough to not special order tomatoes on her sandwich, I'm sure not going to add them to my Big Mac salad -- nor am I going to write a recipe telling you it's a forgivable offense.  In all seriousness, the special sauce is all about contrasting flavors playing in harmony, and, the acidity in tomatoes just "breaks the spell".  

Dill pickles, not tomatoes, belong in a Big Mac salad.

IMG_5981Enjoy a homemade salad The McDonald's way today!

IMG_6002The McDonald's-Style Big Mac Cheeseburger Salad:  Recipe yields instructions to make 4, hearty main-dish salads.

Special Equipment List:  whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; 10" skillet w/lid, preferably nonstick; spatula

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0984a3a7970dCook's Note: Would you like chili instead?  As one who raised three boys with a Wendy's joint just a few miles down the street from us, my recipe for ~ Kids' Stuff:  Mel's Wendy's Chili Con Carne ~ was one of the first fast-foods I needed to find a way to duplicate at home.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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